After almost 600 articles in what’s been a great five year run it’s time to put the show on ice. The Metal Gamer was created to support the extreme metal underground, interviewing bands and reviewing new albums. Eventually it became a touch of gaming involved but that was a short lived experience due to me not playing enough games. A lot has happened during the years, the blog has grown a lot and I became a parent. For obvious reasons my spare time with the blog went down a lot due to it, I also started my own record label Grind to Death Records which has involved into a more serious project during 2020, taking even more time from the blog. With that being said the blog is a lesser priority than it has been for years, my mojo is kinda gone for it and I will put the blog on i hiatus. I will surely return, be it in a couple months or years but The Metal Gamer will comeback eventually. I will now focus on my record label (links at the bottom) and my writing will be featured in the fanzine Urkraft where I will write a few reviews in Swedish for the magazine. I will keep updating The Metal Gamer playlist on Spotify with fresh music monthly. Stay safe metal brothers and sisters ❤
This year I’m starting a new segment on the blog. An easy way to just share some music I’ve listened to but not reviewed on the blog. First up is the November round-up with releases I really enjoyed but haven’t written about before on the blog or social media.
Mongrel’s Cross – Arcana, Scrying and Revelation (Hells Headbangers). Black, death and thrash unites in a mix that’s lethal. One of Australia’s best bands are back!
Iron Flesh – Summoning the Putrid (Great Dane Records). H.P. Lovecraft, HM-2 sound with an Carcass and Autopsy old school wibe. Yes I’m hooked!
Omegavortex – Black Abomination Spawn (Invictus Productions). Old school extreme metal influenced by legends such as Sarcofago, Morbid Angel and Possessed.
Featuring a member from a black metal band I often listen to (I listened to Endtime Divine the same day I write this) Setherial we have Swedish symphonic black metal duo Svartghast and their debut album Perdition. I had rather high hopes from this debut due to it being season musicians and it would seem it landed somewhat in between my hopes.
Svartghast is definitely all about that old school vibe, think Emperor, Old Man’s Child, Limbonic Art and Dimmu Borgir having a lovechild then you’re close to the music the band offers. However here they hardly live up to at least the hype I had going for them. “Beyond the Veil of Mist” is a superb song, by far the best on the album, but the rest doesn’t quite reach those levels. “The Fall of the First” also offers some killer riffs and a nice change of pace on Perdition that stands out while “Luciferian Dawn” is a great closer. It’s a rather mixed bag of quality on the album as a whole though but with that said it doesn’t mean the rest of the album is bad, it’s simply just good but not good enough to make Perdition become an album I revisit in the future. One thing that took me some time to get used to was the vocals, which I at first had a really hard time enjoying thinking it held the album back. After a few listens I came to like it as it works well with the musics atmosphere. Fans of the symphonic black metal sound from the 90’s should give this a few spins though if your craving more from that school.
Artist: Svartghast Label: Dusktone Release date: November 27th, 2020 Favorite track: Beyond the Veil of Mist For fans of: Emperor & Old Man’s Child Score: 3/5 Good
2020 is coming to an end and what a weird year it’s been. Corvid-19 hit everyone hard and obviously the music industry took a hit. I’ve been to two concerts this year, Suffocation, Belphegor, Hate, Betrayal and Carnosus in February and managed to go to one during the pandemic namely Chaotian with Ond Vind in August (max 50 people, seated with the right security measures). For someone that try to visit at least one concert a month, plus a festival or two that’s been…..weird. Online concerts have become a thing where in the beginning I saw some really shitty ones in terms of production etc but past couple of months there have been a lot of killer ones. Then of course we’ve had a lot of albums dropping! I think 2020 was a slightly weaker year than 2019 in terms of releases overall, getting a top 50 going was much harder last year than this one as I simply had more great releases to choose from in 2019. Still though 2020 was a good year for metal and I think the top 20 for 2020 was much stronger than for 2019 where less than half of the 2019 edition would make it in my top 20 for this year. Quality over quantity I guess. I also have some news to share regarding the feature of this blog. Some of you have noticed my social media presence have gone down past month or two, that’s simply due to less time on my hands. For 2021 I will not share albums daily on Facebook and Twitter, instead I will spend that time on my record label Grind to Death Records. I will still write reviews here of course, maybe not as many but time will tell. Interviews I will do less of, probably only a few for next year. Gaming reviews will hardly ever happen (reason is because I do not play games that much at this point) but might pop up every once in a while. I have begun writing for the Swedish fanzine Urkraft, so you Swedish speakers will see my reviews there. Enough rambling though and lets get to the list! Don’t forget to check out the Spotify playlist which features songs from each album in the top 50 (that’s available on Spotify). Stay safe out there!
The Metal Gamer album of the year
One of the most hyped albums not just for me but for the whole death metal community did exactly what everyone hoped, delivered one of the best death metal albums in years. It’s a masterpiece through and through and an album any fan of extreme metal should own. I had this locked in on my album of the year spot since the release and nothing could overthrow it in the end. Simply the best album I’ve heard since Archspire’s Relentless Mutation and one of the best albums I’ve heard since I started this blog.
Maveth, one of the best bands ever created in my personal opinion never got to see a second full-length album. Which is a shame as everything they released is simply stunning. Proscription is Christbutcher’s (the man behind Maveth) new project and it follows in the bands footsteps. I even heard from Christbutcher himself one of the songs on Conduit was meant to be on a Maveth album. Safe to say I am sold, Conduit is very dark death metal that’s not for the faint of heart and it crushes. Read the review here.
Havukruunu is a band I’ve followed since Kelle surut soi, which was a few albums in actually. That album though, holy shit did it blow me away and I obviously checked the rest of the discography which was just as good. With Uinuos Syömein Sota the band has crafted more of the same sweet pagan black metal on a level that few can even touch. If you haven’t checked out Havukruunu before do yourself a favour and do it.
What a debut album! This came from out of no where and blew me away. One of the best debut albums I’ve heard since I started this blog, if not the best. Kvaen will have a heard time to beat this with their follow-up but if they do, or even maintain the same quality, then we have a new world class black metal band to follow. Read the review here.
Album of the year: Ulcerate – Stare Into Death and Be Still Deathcore album of the year: Lorna Shore – Immortal Technical death metal album of the year: Ulcerate – Stare Into Death and Be Still Death metal album of the year: Proscription – Conduit Brutal death metal album of the year: Scordatura – Mass Failure Atmospheric black metal album of the year: Sunken – Livslede Black metal album of the year: Havukruunu – Uinuos Syömein Sota Folk metal album of the year: Finntroll – Vredesvävd Debut full-length album of the year: Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre Song of the year: Proscription – Thy Black Nimbus Gate Best concert I went to in 2020: Suffocation, Belphegor, Hate, Betrayal and Carnosus (Plan B, Malmö, February 26th) Biggest disappointment: Corvid-19, album wise Isengard – Vårjevndøgn Most anticipated album of 2021: New Archspire album while writing this article
From Finland I got my very first grindcore review on my hands and it’s a rather juicy one at that. Last Days of Capitalism is Tolerance first full-length album but the band have been going for a long time so this isn’t really a new kid on the block. So what does Tolerance give us with their full-length debut?
A big mix of crushing tracks that will blow your brains out, relentless non-stop action that’s what! One thing that makes this stand out from the little grindcore I listen to is there is a groove element to this release, which to me makes this more memorable and easier to access. Add the sci-fi elements, a drum machine going bonkers and you got a recipe for a good grindcore album. Noisecore, grindcore, goregrind, cybercrust, synth and groove (hell you name the bizarre genre and it’s in here!) mashed into a pot of craziness that I think you either dig the hell out of or will go what the fuck is this shit? Which is just the way grindcore should be in my opinion, a hate or love relationship. If you’re even a remote fan of grindcore this will be your jam right here. Me as some sort of a newbie who only dabble in it from time to time can get some joy out of this release but I’m sure pure fans of the genre would of given this a higher score even.
As far as the genre goes Last Days of Capitalism does work out and I’ve found myself giving this quite a few listen as something draws me back at time. Might be the utter chaos that’s going on that speaks to me, I don’t know. All I know is I want more of Tolerance with their mutant apocalyptic world that spews absolute filth.
Artist: Tolerance Label: Bringer of Gore Release date: October 3rd, 2020 Favorite track: Obscured Horror For fans of: Last Days of Humanity & Cock and Ball Torture Score: 3/5 Good
When it comes to Finnish black metal Horna is a household name and probably the biggest black metal band the country have ever produced. Not only are they one of the oldest bands going but they have released a shitload of albums during the years, with most being of very high quality! While it wasn’t long ago we got some Horna music as they released a split with Pure two years ago, it’s been five years since their last full-length album Hengen Tulet which received some mixed criticism but was at it’s peaks a very good album. I personally think Hengen Tulet was one of the better albums they’ve produced and it was only the mix that was a bit off to my ears. That’s the funny thing with Horna though, they do switch it up a bit with many of their releases and you will see a lot of fans have different favorites when it comes to the bands discography. With Kuoleman Kirjo I hope we get more of that pure dark and evil black metal we all know Horna can do.
When an album clocks in on over an hour long warning bells actually rings to me. Why? Simply due to the fact that’s a lot of time to keep ones interest going when it comes to music and it usually means fillers (which is why I loose interest). When it comes to Kuoleman Kirjo I have to say Horna does a great effort on giving the listener a varied enough album, where the riffs are actually some of the best I’ve heard on a Horna album, yet keeping the core sound intact throughout the album and you sit there slowly headbanging from start to finish. No fillers here folks! The ice cold atmosphere and pure evil Horna is all about oozes from this release as it has a much better mix than their last effort, really giving the guitars the space it deserves, and a Horna hungry to put the world onto a veil of darkness once again.
While it’s hard to beat what I personally think is their best album so far Sanojesi Äärelle Horna means business with Kuoleman Kirjo and I can honestly say this is one of their best albums to date, where only Envaatnags Eflos Solf Esgantaavne and of course Sanojesi Äärelle beats it when I write this. Of course I’ve only had a weeks time to get acquainted with Kuoleman Kirjo but during that week I’ve only come to like the album more and more. This is Horna with some fresh blood amongst their ranks, which seems to have reinvigorated the band as they’ve made their best album in over ten years (which says a lot seeing how many good album they’ve released during those years). They’ve somewhat gone back more to their roots when crafting this occult ritual and it has done them a huge favour. Personal favorites “Saatanan Viha”, “Elegia” or “Mustat Vuodet” are pure black metal gold that you need to hear, but honestly the whole album kicks some serious ass which is a most listen to black metal fans around the world.
Artist: Horna Label: W.T.C. Productions Release date: December 8th, 2020 Favorite track: Mustat Vuodet For fans of: Sargeist & Satanic Warmaster Score: 4/5 Excellent
The year is almost coming to an end and here I am writing the October highlights! I know this is very late, I should be posting the November highlights but time hasn’t been my friend lately. With that being said I will simply skip the November edition and jump straight to the albums of the year article with my next article. Before that though be sure to check out my upcoming Horna review, an album that will be a favorite among black metal fans for sure. This month saw some very good releases where the top 5 once again was a hard one to set into stone. Grafvitnir, Wayfarer, Inferi and Necrophobic were all going in and out of the top 5 but eventually fell a bit short from the picks I made so if anything be sure to check those albums out too as a couple of those will be featured on my top 50 of the year! I haven’t made a playlist for this month, due to the fact I’m working on the album of the year list and will have a massive playlist for that. Stay safe out there!
Album of the month
When it comes to melodic death metal I see Mors Principium Est as the uncrowned kings. Album after album they bring some of the best riffs you’ll ever hear and Seven is no different. Melodic death metal doesn’t get much better than this.
Auðn keeps on growing even after a superb debut album back in 2014. Vökudraumsins Fangi is their best work yet and now three albums in of very high atmospheric black metal quality it’s safe to say they are a band to stay on the upper tiers of the genre.
16 years after their last album Goratory returns and better than ever! I honestly wasn’t that keen on them before but with Sour Grapes they blew me away. When a band consists of members from acts such as Job For a Cowboy and Deeds of Flesh you could kind of have guessed it would be top notch stuff!
Another return on the list, this time 15 years after their last album! To me Tusen år har gott… is one of the best black metal albums ever released and to see Mörk Gryning coming back with such hunger again is great. I would honestly say this is their best album after Tusen år har gott…, hard to say though when the band have released four superb albums in the past (I won’t name one of them). Safe to say that Hinsides Vrede is an album any black metal fan should listen to!
Invincible Force – Decomposed Sacramentum Svartsyn – Requiem Grafvitnir – Death’s Wings Widespread Distant – Dawn of Corruption Demonical – World Domination Wayfarer – A Romance With Violence Weight of Emptiness – Conquering the Deep Cycle Carnal Ruin – The Damned Lie Rotting Arsebreed – Butoh Cermonial Bloodbath – The Tides of Blood Septage – Septic Decadence Cynabare Urne – Obsidian Daggers and Cinnabar Skulls Åskog – Varg Wombripper – Macabre Melodie Disrupted – Pure Death Grimorte – Revie Lord Almighty – Wither Coexistence – Collateral Dimension Iskandr – Gelderse poort Striges – Verum Veterum Incinerate – Sacrilegivm Aphonic Threnody – The Great Hatred Skyless Aeons – Drain the Sun Benediction – Scriptures Johansson & Speckmann – The Germs of Circumstance Necrophobic – Dawn of the Damned Inferi – Of Sunless Realms Furnace – Dark Vistas Cellar Vessel – Vein Beneath the Soil Desperate – The Last Days of Humanity When Blood Falls Down – Pandæmonium Morphogenetic Malformation – Into The Odiousness Antzaat – For You Men Who Gaze Into the Sun Funeral Harvest – Funeral Harvest Infera Bruo – Rites of the Nameless Sulphur Sun – Placodermic Heraldry Infiltration – Point Blank Termination Conjureth – The Levitation Manifest Wallfahrer – Lightbringer-Leidbringer Devoured by the Abyss – Omnipotence Signs of Omnicide – Interplanetary Harvest Cryogenical Excision – Micro Surgery Fetor – Downwards to Distress
A Pretext to Human Suffering is a new band on the technical brutal death metal, with hints of slam and deathcore, scene. The band features some very high profile names within the community where Marco Pitruzzella on drums is probably the one who stands out the most due to his time in bands such as Rings of Saturn, Six Feet Under, Sobek, Brain Drill and Habitual Depravity. Add 3/5 members of Defleshed and Gutted (two of those are also in Devour the Unborn), a band I personally love and spin ever so often and you got a recipe for great metal ahead! Sadly it doesn’t quite live up to my high expectations.
The guitar solos are on point with the title track “Rotting Sanctum” and “No Light Lives” goes super hard which both ends up being highlights on this EP. I do find the vocals being too low on the album overall whereas it’s extra noticeable on “Chain of Command // Oppression” to me, a track I end up skipping quite quickly. On “No Light Lives” that isn’t an issue do for some reason as the mix there is perfect. That kinda ruins quite a bit of the experience with Rotting Sanctum in my opinion which is a shame, but also showcase the importance of great production. The guitars though, song after song the riffing is great which is definitely a main reason for me to get back to Rotting Sanctum for a few songs. Otherwise there isn’t anything that stands out enough on Rotting Sanctum that makes me want to take this album for repeat listens, fans of the genre might want to take this for a spin or two but probably jump on to the next album after that.
A shame the production bothers me quite a bit (the sound quality and levels are honestly quite different from track to track, almost like they were recorded on separate sessions with different hardware) as it could potentially be a more solid album if that was better handled, however for now the album suffers for it. Close to a three but there wasn’t enough for me to justify that score when the mixing was bellow average where there were only really two, maybe three songs on a five song EP that I could recommend. “No Light Lives” is a song that goes damn hard though and that will feature on my playlist(s) for a long time. If they keep the levels of “No Light Lives”, “Rotting Sanctum” or even “Loathe” with a decent mix to go with it then next time around I’m sure to have a way better time with A Pretext to Human Suffering. This is only a debut EP though, which did have some good moments, and the members surely have what it takes to dance with the bigger names out there, just not yet.
Carnal Abhorrence might be a name you’ve heard before as it’s only a bit over a year ago since they released their debut album titled Gormandizing Rapture. In case you haven’t, or simply forgot, let me recap. The band consists of the duo Nick Loria (vocals, lyrics) and AJ Lucas (guitars, drums programming) where you follow Djirinn, an experiment gone wrong and now he want to annihilate the world after having escaped. The journey continues as their second album is approaching us. Will Djirinn succeed in his quest on conquering the world?
You know what I love? When TBDM goes in full gear from the very first note and guess what? That’s exactly what Carnal Abhorrence does on The Crowned Apocalypse opener, the title track, wasting no time on bashing our skulls in with high quality riffs from AJ Lucas, fast paced drums (programmed, which is a minor negative to me but they do a great job here truth be told) and Nick Loria’s superb vocal performance. The duo’s debut album Gormandizing Rapture was a nasty release but it didn’t quite do it for me personally. Here though they are firing on all cylinders and seem to really have grown a lot as a band in only a year! Massive strides in the right direction and they’ve now gone from a band I thought was ok, but not really something I had my eye on for future releases into a TBDM machine who takes no prisoners.
Carnal Abhorrence has surprised me with this release. From what I thought might be a solid release but nothing more, nothing less turns out to be one of the best TBDM albums I’ve heard this year. Sure the drums are programmed and at times I do miss that organic sound but they have done a much better job with the programming this time around than on Gormandizing Rapture so it doesn’t bug me nearly as much as it did then, so well done improving on what I thought was one of the weakest points on the debut. Add the fact they got two wicked guest artists in both Lucas Mann and Misstiq (now that one did surprise me!) who brings a lot to the table on The Crowned Apocalypse as those songs stands out, changing the pace. Due to these songs though the first half of the album might be a bit all over the place because there are four tracks widely different from one another. One by one the songs kicks ass but I’m not entirely sure I enjoy them on an album as a concept yet but more like singles. However they get an A+ for bringing those two in and trying something new! When “The Butchers Shibboleth” then comes on order is restored as Carnal Abhorrence gets right back at it with their heavy hitting TBDM followed by “Ordained Octane” which switches it up some where the tempo-changes reigns high and mighty, giving some slam elements to it. That song quickly becomes my most played (together with the title track) as it’s instant gains time! “Cycles of Cybernetic De-Evolution” comes on next and it brings more of the same to the table, and damn do I love it when this duo go wild and crazy like this. This is playing to their strengths for sure. Rest of the album just kicks my ass as now I am certain the band should actually stick to their guns because the second half of the album is just a lot cleaner and hits me with a sledge hammer on every song. Nothing against Lucas Mann or Misstiq at all, since they did a good job, but I personally had a better time with The Crowned Apocalypse when the duo got to unleash chaos themselves. Probably because I am not that big of a fan of either Rings of Saturn nor Misstiq as it’s not something you see me listen to. Fans of either will, for obvious reasons, probably love those tracks a lot more than I did.
All in all Carnal Abhorrence has done a good job to just in a years time reach new levels of brutality. A massive improvement from the debut album and one of the best TBDM albums you will hear this year. Djirinn (the skinless muscular laboratory experiment that album is about) hasn’t quite managed to conquer the world yet with his army of undead but he is well on his way to do so. Bring in a drummer for the next release and maybe skip the guests all together (my personal opinion of course, many will probably disagree haha) and you got yourself an brutal death metal album of the year contender. Still The Crowned Apocalypse is an excellent album, there isn’t a single bad song on it and no one should skip this beauty. Oh and did I mention the album cover is a true work of art? Daemorph has outdone himself with this one in my opinion! Goes perfect with the concept album.
There are probably few seasoned black metal fans who don’t know of the name Ondskapt, who have been going for 20 years this year. While only one original member remains in Acerbus he decided to keep the Luciferian act alive when bringing Gefandi Ör Andlät on bass (Dys Inbunden, ex-Mephorash), Daemonum Subeunt on drums (Claymords, Sterbhaus, ex-Netherbird) and J.Megiddo (Marduk, In Aeternum, ex-Shining, ex-Degial) on guitars together to give us the fourth full-length album from the band 10 years after their latest offering, Arisen from the Ashes. Obviously this raises some questions, does the band still hold strong after 10 years from the scene and have all these line-up changes hurt them along the way?
First of let me start with saying I personally think Ondskapt has released one of the best black metal albums ever with Dödens Evangelium back in 2005. That album was a masterpiece, a complete package, and I spin it a lot even today. While the 2010 release Arisen from the Ashes was a solid album I didn’t think it was quite close to the levels Ondskapt reached on the album prior. I didn’t know what to expect from Grimoire Ordo Devus, would Ondskapt continue to lower their quality (granted could still be a good album, as Ondskapt got no bad ones) of get back on track with these line-up changes and a lot of time to work on a new album?
A mix of both it would turn out to be. New life seems to have been given Ondskapt as I feel in love with the evil atmosphere that’s surrounding the album from the very start, the mix is on point too, and this old demon seems to have some fire left. It doesn’t burn as bright as Dödens Evangelium (almost nothing does though) but it’s better than I’d hoped it would be truth be told as I did fear this could become a nail in the coffin, that’s not the case. There are some lows such as “Opposites” and “Possession” which are quite the snooze in my book and I actually skip those songs all together after a few spins with the album. On the other spectrum songs like “Ascension” and “Paragon Belial” stands tall though and finds their way high up the Ondskapt tiers overall.
As stated I didn’t have that high hopes for Grimoire Ordo Devus due to various reasons but this turns out be a very good album even with its flaws. I hope we don’t have to wait ten years for the next album and that they can build on this release to reach the levels I know Ondskapt can reach. Celebrating 20 years of black metal worship is a big deal and while the celebration might not be as grand as I think it could be it’s still a damn good party. For those who loves occult black metal this will surely be a treat for your ears where fans of Ondskapt can make a statement they are back in style, but it’s probably not something you bring up in your album of the year talks.
Artist: Ondskapt Label: Osmose Productions Release date: November 27th, 2020 Favorite track: Paragon Belial For fans of: Watain & Ofermod Score: 3.5/5 Very good